Environment expert Bikrant Tiwary offers actionable solutions to improve AQI levels

The CEO of Grow-Trees.com explains how simple ideas can combat air pollution effectively

North India usually experiences alarming levels of deterioration in the AQI (Air Quality Index) during winter. Going by media reports, AQI pollution touched a hazardous 371 in Delhi and 300 in Mumbai, this week. Commenting on this crisis, Bikrant Tiwary, CEO of the social organisation, Grow-Trees.com says,” Recent media reports have noted a 30% increase in the number of respiratory patients in India around the New Year and these numbers should concern us all. There are many factors contributing to poor air quality but increasing greenhouse emissions and rampant deforestation have added to the problem.”

One of the simplest ways to counter this problem, says Bikrant, is to undertake massive tree-plantation initiatives and says, “We recklessly cut trees without realising that a tree can absorb around 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year. Grow-Trees.com has already planted over 10 million trees across 23 states in India and has undertaken various tree plantation projects to increase lung spaces in urban zones, to expand wildlife habitats and to provide livelihoods to rural communities’ and these trees have the capacity to absorb nearly 350,501,280 Kg of Co2 on maturity.”

He also shares that vegetation helps in filtering major atmospheric pollutants like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and adds, “Topographically appropriate trees in urban zones and rich biodiversity are not only good for urban water tables and soil quality but they also improve the surrounding air quality, regulate the temperature and sequester carbon.”

Delhi in winter also suffers from the consequences of stubble burning in neighbouring states apart from ubiquitous vehicular pollution, and construction activities. To address these issues, Grow-Trees.com has started the ‘Trees for Delhi’, a plantation drive that aims to counter air pollutants by expanding green cover. Similar projects have been started in Mumbai, Jamshedpur and many other cities and says Bikrant, “Air pollution directly impacts health markers and is responsible for causing chronic illnesses among citizens including children and the elderly. We must collectively also make changes in the way we contribute to air pollution and need to start thinking about green buildings, and using wind, solar and geothermal energy. It is time also to shift to carpooling, electric vehicles and more extensive use of public transport.”

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